There is a rolling training programme every three weeks for care staff at The Richardson Partnership for Care and one of the topics is dementia awareness. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and people with learning difficulties and people who have experienced stroke or head injuries have a higher risk of dementia.
During the training sessions, staff learn about some of the more common types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia as well as rarer causes of dementia such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Korsakoff’s syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
Symptoms of dementia
Dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language. As the symptoms can be consistent with different types of learning difficulty or acquired brain injury, it is important for staff to be aware of them and that dementia is a progressive condition. Dementia progresses as the structure and the chemistry of the brain become increasingly damaged over time.
The initial symptoms of dementia for someone with severe learning difficulties may not be typical. They may be changes in personality or behaviour, and therefore dementia may be harder to diagnose. Our care support workers, home managers and multi-disciplinary team of therapists work closely with the service users in our care and keep daily records as part of their care plan. This familiarity and the knowledge of the care team, combined with regular reviews, help us to identify any health issues that our service users experience. Each service user is registered with a GP and has their own health passport.
Treatment and support
The dementia awareness training looks at how some medications can slow the progression of dementia and how diet and nutrition can help. It also covers activities, memories and how the environment can play a part in helping people with dementia to feel more secure. At The Richardson Partnership for Care, our homely environment, familiar and structured routine can help people with dementia to feel safe and comfortable. In addition, our person-centred approach helps to identify each person’s individual needs and supports them during everyday life, however their needs change.
Training materials relating to dementia can be purchased from The Alzheimer’s Society, which provides a wide range of information www.alzheimers.org.uk